Super Bowl weekend got off to a great start for the Eagles, as safety Brian Dawkins and wide receiver Terrell Owens were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The duo joins an illustrious hall of fame class for 2018 that reportedly includes linebacker Ray Lewis, wide receiver Randy Moss and linebacker Brian Urlacher as modern-day selections. Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard will join them as well.
Dawkins and T.O. join the 20 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have played for the Philadelphia Eagles. Dawkins played for in Philly from 1996 to 2008 and is sixth all-time in tackles (and first in assisted tackles) in team history. In addition to his 707 stops and 191 assists, Dawkins had 21 sacks with the Eagles, 34 interceptions — including two for scores — forced 32 fumbles and recovered 16, including one for a score. He is tied for the franchise record in interceptions, and holds the record for forced fumbles by more than 10.
As great as Dawkins was on the field, his impact within the franchise continues to this day. The Eagles brought Dawkins in an official capacity last season, hiring him as a Football Operations Executive.
Dawkins was the leader of the Eagles defense in the Andy Reid era, and is in an elite category of most beloved Philly athletes in any sport. By his fourth season he had become the face of the Eagles defense, playing 183 games over his 13 years with the team. He retired after the 2011 season, after three years with the Denver Broncos, but he will always be known as an Eagles star and a beloved figure in Philadelphia sports history.
Taken with the last pick of the second round in the ’96 NFL draft (pick 61) out of Clemson, Dawkins was selected with the Eagles’ third pick that year, behind first rounder Jermane Mayberry and tight end Jason Dunn, who the team took 54th overall. Dawkins was highly productive on the field for the Eagles, but it was the style by which he played — heart on his sleeve, flying through the air and willingness to put his body on the line on every play — that endeared him to Philadelphia fans. He embodied everything it was to be an Eagle in the Reid era, leading the defense by example on and off the field.
An elite honor
Dawkins, Owens and the other 2018 inductees join an elite group of 266 players, 23 coaches and 23 contributors already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seventeen of those members were in the charter class and just 76 were elected on the first ballot after that. Dawkins was elected on his second try and Owens on his third. Of the players already in Canton, just 24 are defensive backs — less than 10 percent of those enshrined — and just seven are listed as safeties, with 11 having played primarily safety in addition to cornerback.
Dawkins and Owens aren’t the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year their team played in the Super Bowl. They aren’t even the only player in this class, as Randy Moss played 52 games over four seasons with the Patriots. Ty Law, also a 2018 finalist, was a longtime member of the Patriots, but he did not get in this year.
In four of the last five years a player has been inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year one of his former teams made the Super Bowl. Kevin Greene was inducted the same year the Carolina Panthers lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, while Junior Seau, who ended his career with New England, was inducted in 2015 when the Patriots beat Seattle. Both Seahawks lineman Walter Jones and Baltimore Ravens lineman Jonathan Ogden were recently inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year those teams made the Super Bowl.
Owens was a mercurial player during his decade and a half in the NFL, but there’s no denying his productivity. He ranks second all-time in NFL history in receiving yards with 15,934 and is eighth all-time in catches, one of just 14 receivers in history with 1,000 or more receptions. He is one of only three players with more than 150 touchdown catches, as his 153 stand behind only Moss (156) and Jerry Rice (197).
Owens started his career in San Francisco and played eight years with the 49ers where he took over for Rice as the team’s top receiver. But a messy divorce with the franchise (he seemed to have a lot of those in his career) led him to Philadelphia, where he played for two seasons under Andy Reid. If you can call it two seasons.
Owens played in 14 games his first season before suffering a leg injury that nearly kept him out of the entire 2004 Super Bowl run. Owens caught nine balls for 122 yards and almost willing the Eagles to the championship by himself on a broken leg.
Owens and Moss join a list of only 25 modern era wide receivers in the Hall of Fame, Until last year one receiver had been inducted each of the previous four years, but this is the first year two receivers will be inducted in the same class. History, indeed.
And pretty good start to the weekend for the Eagles.